Other risks are associated with Pristiq and other SNRI type antidepressant drugs and these should be carefully monitored, such as SEROTONIN SYNDROME and STEVENS-JOHNSON SYNDROME (see below for more detailed information) which are both extremely severe, though relatively rare reactions associated with Pristiq and other SNRI medications. For these and other reasons, considering a Pristiq taper may be beneficial.
There is a wide range of additional side effects associated with Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) which you will find listed further down in this article. Not everyone who takes Pristiq suffers extreme side effects, and some people will experience none at all. However, some adverse reactions are life-threatening and require medical intervention.
Where lingering and troublesome side effects occur these can lead to wanting to stop taking Pristiq. But a person should try to inform themselves on the best ways of stopping Pristiq. FDA guidelines on Pristiq withdrawal recommend that one reduce the drug as rapidly as possible, but not so quickly as to cause intolerable withdrawal symptoms. Doctors in the main are not well-prepared in helping their patients to taper off drugs because unfortunately there is little to no training given in medical school on Pristiq withdrawal help and so doctors in the main are not confident regarding how to get off Pristiq.
Where a person elects to stop taking an SNRI medication, or any medication, it is always wise to seek as much information as possible before beginning the process. We can provide much information on request which may help greatly in planning a safe and even relatively comfortable Pristiq withdrawal. More information is given below on how to get off Pristiq and other topics related to Pristiq withdrawal help.
Desvenlafaxine is the generic name for Pristiq, which is approved for the treatment of adult depression disorders.
The drug is also prescribed for a number of women’s health issues in particular, such as hot flashes associated with menopause, and for women who experience particularly difficult symptoms relating to the menstrual cycle.
Pristiq is considered to be a “non-hormonal” treatment where an alternative hormone treatment is sought to address vasomotor conditions (relating to the muscles and nerves that regulate dilation and constriction of blood vessels) relating to a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) is also prescribed for reducing pain associated with Fibromyalgia, however, only a minority of Fibromyalgia patients continue SNRI drug treatment due to the severity of side effects that may ultimately outweigh any perceived benefits. (1)
Desvenlafaxine is the drug’s generic name. Pristiq is a brand name. Other brand names include:
Pristiq is not known to be a popularized street drug but has been found in relatively uncommon pharmaceutical drug diversion cases as with other antidepressants. Sometimes called “poor mans cocaine”, certain antidepressant prescription drugs are crushed and snorted or injected for a rush similar to other stimulant drugs like cocaine or crack. However, such practices often lead to a trip to the nearest hospital for emergency medical care.
Due to Pristiq’s extended-release structure, it is less subject to abuse than immediate-release antidepressant drugs. Perhaps viewed by some as a deterrent, fillers used in prescription pills may be toxic to the skin when injected, potentially creating very deep abscesses that are prone to infection, especially where neglect and poor hygiene can quickly escalate infection and lead to loss of life where untreated.
Severe Pristiq side effects can occur as with any SNRI drug, requiring medical intervention for the safety of the patient. It is important to be aware of these while taking an SNRI. Some of the most severe adverse reactions from Pristiq to be aware of are listed here:
SEROTONIN SYNDROME: When too much serotonin has been activated in the body this can result in a set of life-threatening symptoms including sudden fever, chills, depressed respiration, coma, unconsciousness, and death.
STEVENS-JOHNSON SYNDROME: This is a severe hive-like reaction of the skin caused by certain medications such as Pristiq, which also targets moist tissues of the mouth, eyes, throat, airways, anus, etc. First presents with fever and flu-like symptoms, followed by the skin erupting into blisters that darken and peel away leaving raw painful tissue. Dehydration, sepsis, pneumonia, multiple organ failure associated with this condition can lead to death.
INCREASED SUICIDALITY: Pristiq causes suicidality in children, teens, and young adults especially under the age of 25, and is therefore not prescribed. However, trials and statistics also show increased suicidality risk in older populations. (2)
Other common Pristiq side effects include:
WARNING: Never abruptly stop taking Pristiq, as according to the FDA and other regulatory bodies rapid or abrupt cessation can be extremely difficult to endure, and sometimes life-threatening. Always seek medical assistance for Pristiq withdrawal treatment.
Pristiq withdrawal symptoms even when tapering slowly can be extremely hard to tolerate, and therefore need to be closely monitored. Some persons will have an easier time if tapering is done in an inpatient style program that can offer enough support and adjunctive therapies to significantly reduce the discomfort that can otherwise accompany cessation.
Some common Pristiq withdrawals include:
Because Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) is a timed-release medication, it may be prudent in some cases to consider cross-tapering. Clinical expertise is essential for this method of tapering to be done correctly, but choosing this option may ultimately prove to be considerably easier for the patient.
Cross-tapering should only be done in an inpatient setting where close monitoring is possible. In this way, one can avoid any risks that can be associated with incorrect dosages, inappropriate drug interactions, or switching medications too abruptly.
It is recommended that a center be chosen that has demonstrated competence and familiarity with how to successfully negotiate through the cessation process so the withdrawals can be significantly mitigated. Done well, a correct and exact Pristiq taper supplemented with neurobiophysical and social support can be surprisingly mild.
Below are some of the most common questions regarding Pristiq (desvenlafaxine).
Dr. Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine. Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.